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10.12.2007 Sports News

The First Nations Cup

By Daily Guide

DAILY GUIDE SPORTS this week brings to its numerous readers the action that characterized the beginning of the Nations Cup in 1957.

By Pierre Toto

Four nations, namely Ethiopia, Egypt, South Africa and Sudan were to start the tournament which was of course opened to all association members of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), but it was difficult to get a venue for the maiden edition as it was decided that the competition should be held every two years.

Many things were taken into consideration before a nation would be chosen to host the event- like the membership of CAF, availability of stadia and independence status of the country.

Based on the criteria above, Dr. Abdel Halim Mohamed, one of the founding members, proposed that Sudan should host the maiden edition because the country was building a new stadium in Khartoum and this proposal was accepted by all.

Engineer A.A. Salem also decided to donate the trophy for the tournament on the condition that it would bear his name, but this was ruled out. The competition was therefore christened, 'African Cup of Nations', and though Mr. Salem later offered the trophy that had his name, it was to remain the property of CAF.

The new Khartoum stadium was inaugurated on September 30, 1956 and four months later, the first Nations Cup was held there alongside the CAF General Assembly. The Local Organising Committee was chaired by A. A. Salem and included members like Galal Koreitem of Egypt, Ydnekalchew Tessema of Ethiopia and Abdel Rahim of Sudan. It was at this General Assembly of CAF that Statutes and Regulations of the federation were adopted.

Every nation was to send a list of 25 players for the final tournament and a withdrawal of a country was to be notified a month in advance with a fine of 50 Egyptian Pounds to avoid total suspension from the next competition.

The first Nations Cup was held in Khartoum and Ethiopia who were to play South Africa in the semi-finals, had a walkover to meet Egypt in the final match due to the withdrawal of the Bafana Bafana, who earlier on refused to feature a multi-racial as was recommended by CAF.

Egypt beat Sudan 2-1 in the final game on February 15, 1957 in Khartoum in a match handled by referee Youssef Mohamed of Sudan who happened to be the first referee to handle the African Cup of Nations.